Gar Rodeo Recap

Well the attendance was light. It was me and Steve. The good news is the registration lines were short. We were about 30 minutes late leaving for the river but we were driving in on the levee by 7:30. As per usual some cows were standing in the road on top of the levee with cowbirds all around:

Momma goes over the levee
Gotta follow Momma
Baby goes over the levee

When we arrived at our main rock dike, Steve got his first look at the Mississippi river when it was running lean and green. The water was lower than I wanted, it’s better for kayaks when it’s a little higher. The water was a pretty green, though I’ve seen it prettier. I told Steve I thought it was probably a turbidity of 35 and when I got back home I checked and that’s what it was. Thirty-five is very good. I have seen it better but not many times.

Steve gets a first look

I almost always walk the levee first as you can see into the water better than if you approach from a kayak. That’s what we did and right away we were seeing gar nosing around the rocks or cruising, which is a good sign. Any time you see gar and they are not coming up to gulp air you can pretty well bet that they are biting, and they were.

Both of us had tied long clouser type gar flies with different synthetics. I had done research and on some Youtube sites they said that certain synthetics would get caught in the gar’s teeth just like nylon rope. Right away we were getting takes. With the fish high and happy it was fun to land a fly near them and then watch them grab the fly. To help them get entangled we would pull lightly on the fly and the gar would immediately respond with a shake, like a dog with a rag. Though we managed quite a few takes on some really good sized gar, we couldn’t get anything but a short fight before the flies pulled loose. Exasperated I pulled out an old rope fly I had made years before and tried it. The first fish to take the fly immediately got entangled and couldn’t shake the hook. It was an alligator gar and I measured it at 26 inches, not a bruiser by any means. Unfortunately I forgot to take a pic.

As the sun got higher the gar started submerging and we gave the white bass a try. I was thrilled to hook up with this 16 inch white bass (or hybrid?) below:

Then Steve hooked up with one:

Then the bite seemed to just shut down. The water was low and it just didn’t seem worth it to put the kayaks in so we walked to a couple of other jetties. The low water made them less than ideal. To beat the heat we left around noon but we stopped by Steele Bayou on the way home because I knew there were plenty of gar there. We were not disappointed, when we arrived the gar were rolling, i.e. coming up to refill their air bladder in the warm water. There were tons of small gar in the back-current near the bank and bigger ones rolling out further.

I managed this 26 inch long nose gar, again with the rope fly. Our pretty new fancy flies would get plenty of takes again but just wouldn’t hook up:

I had to use the scissors to release him so the fly took a real haircut. That is the last gar that fly will ever entangle.

We were back at the office by 4:30. I disqualified myself for being the rodeo “organizer” so Steve was the big winner and took away the gar mug, a nice box of beautiful popping bugs from and of course, some gar scales.

It was fun, hot August type fun, but fun nevertheless. Nobody got bit by a gar, we found white bass and got to ramble around the Mississippi river. Wildlife sign everywhere, deer tracks, hog sign, and all kinds of tracks in the shallow water that we couldn’t figure out.

But this fun is over, the river has dropped out to about 14; however, this river rat knows a good jetty at that level too 🙂

The moral of this story is that the gar fly needs work. The biggest problem is the nylon from a rope entangles better than anything but it just makes a horrible looking fly. I have since found that by using a carding tool you can take nylon rope filaments and make them as pretty and tamed as a doll’s hair. I took some of my newly carded nylon and made a decent looking fly. I will experiment some more and provide a report. Some of you may want to keep a gar fly or two with you for when your trip turns into a “gar rodeo”.

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